The Season Wheel turns

How many of you had to make a Season Wheel at school, where you divided a paper plate into quarters and drew a picture for spring, summer, autumn and winter? Growing up in Cape Town, you’d draw flowers for spring, sunshine for summer, falling leaves for autumn and rain for winter. Yet, it was only when I moved to Berlin that I really experienced the dramatic four seasons. In Cape Town it’s too warm for very strong autumn colours, there’s no snow, and there’s less flowering trees. I imagine if you grew up somewhere like Thailand or Senegal where it’s always warm, you’d draw your seasons very differently too, maybe with wet and dry, windy or stormy seasons.  And in some countries, it might rain all year round.

Rain clouds looming one summer day in Ireland

Right now it’s autumn in Berlin, and the trees are getting noticeably barer as the last of the golden leaves fall off. It starts getting darker by 3:30pm already and it looks like midnight by 5pm. We’re heading to the long, dark time of year. We had a great long summer this year, with warm temperatures starting in May and lasting right up till October. This was a big contrast to last year, when there was basically no summer, and it stayed cold and rainy throughout the year. This year winter was very long, but spring flew by very quickly as temperatures warmed up fast, leading to a long warm summer.  Autumn seemed fairly short as well, since the summer was so long.

Summer sunset in Brandenburg

As I haven’t posted any seasonal updates all year despite taking a gazillion leaf and flower pictures as usual, I thought I’d do a round up of the months and seasons before we enter winter, to show how the seasons look in central Europe. Unlike in English or German where the month names are derived from the names of Roman gods (e.g. March from Mars), numbers (e.g. September from septem, meaning seven) or the Caesars (e.g. July from Julius Caesar), in Czech, the month names are often related to the season. For fun (and because I should learn them) I thought I would list the Czech month names here too, along with their meanings. Note that in Czech the names of months are not capitalized. Continue reading

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Canoeing on the Havel river: Pritzerbe to Hohennauener See via Rathenow

Good weather brings opportunities for weekend canoeing or biking trips. Somehow these trips are always the highlight of my year. Being constantly active during the day leaves no time for pondering over work stresses, and getting from one place to the next by your own horsepower is somehow very satisfying. Taking in the countryside and village scenery at a slow pace instead of racing from one destination to the next by car, train or plane like one usually does when travelling makes all the difference. Camping also brings you back to basics, and you realize that you actually don’t need many things to live quite happily. It also makes you appreciate luxuries like having your own bathroom and a soft bed when you get back home! There is also a thrilling sense of adventure when you set off for a trip with just a backpack and a tent, not knowing what the days ahead will hold. Continue reading

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Road Trip through Europe: Cinque Terre

 

In summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: Berlin – WeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne Lake ComoLa-Spezia – Cinque Terre – Bussana Vecchia – Monaco – Éze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Ste-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin.

I think no stop on our itinerary was as highly anticipated as Cinque Terre. This national park is famous for colourful villages standing on rugged cliffs overlooking the sea, a thing of painter’s dreams.

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Road trip through Europe: Lake Como

In summer, we did a 10 day road trip through parts of Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. Our itinerary was: Berlin – WeimarHeidelburgFreiburgLucerne – Lake Como – La Spezia – Cinque Terre – Bussana Vecchia – Monaco – Éze – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Ste-Marie – Valensole – Chamonix – Tübingen – Swäbisch Hall – Berlin.

After leaving Lucerne, we drove across Switzerland and through the mountains to the region o Lombardy in the north of Italy, coming to our overnight stop for Day 3: the charming town of Torno. Torno is situated right next to Lake Como, a beautiful lake in the foothills of the alps, surrounded by towns with villas and churches. It was one of the places that had made a big impression on me during a trip to Italy in 2005, and I was excited to show it to my husband. Continue reading

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Notes from the Czech countryside – June, the red month

In Czech, June is called červen, which might be related to the word červený, meaning red. Another theory is that červen could come from červ (worm), because the cochineal larvae used for making red dye were around in early summer. Apparently they are now almost all extinct. Either way, June is a red month. The red poppies are out in all the fields and some of the red fruits (cherries, strawberries) are ripe too.

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Canary Islands travel diaries: first stop, Fuerteventura

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In August we took a last-minute trip to the Canary islands, as a friend of ours was working there for a while as a digital nomad, and he invited us to join him there for some exploring. The volcanic landscape of the islands is amazing, and there are also lots of beaches for swimming and watersports. We visited Fuerteventura, Lanzerote and Gran Canaria, all of which had very different atmospheres. I’ll start with some travel notes from our first stop, Fuerteventura. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #23 – 2 in 1

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We’re now in the good part of summer where it’s warm enough to wear a skirt or shorts almost every day. It feels like summer is just beginning as time goes so quickly, so I was a bit disconcerted to realize that we’re heading into our last month of summer now that it’s almost August. We’ve had a lot of unsettling news lately, what with Brexit, various terror attacks across the world, and the attempted coup in Turkey. Crazy times. However, here are some of the good moments from the last two weeks for the Weekly Small Pleasures blog event. From small pleasures from far away in New Zealand, you can also check out Thistles and Kiwis! Continue reading

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Weekly Small Pleasures #22 – Summer in the city

Somehow the middle of the week is working out as a better time for me to publish these posts, so here is another Thursday-to-Thursday week’s worth of small pleasures. Thanks again to A New Life Wandering for hosting Weekly Small Pleasures. This week was one of those weeks where small pleasures were mixed with small annoyances and disappointments! Such is life. Continue reading

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